Scaling the Mount Everest of Gender Equality in Minnesota

Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

“We know Minnesotans have many shared values, including equality and opportunity,” says Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. But getting those shared values to manifest in support for policies that advance women and girls is sometimes a task that feels comparable to scaling the world’s highest mountain. “We have to meet people where they are and bring them with us,” she says, which can often be a daunting task.

Lee Roper-Batker spoke to me by phone from her office at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) in downtown Minneapolis, a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River. The WFM is the oldest and largest statewide women’s foundation in the U.S., and its mission is to engage in “systems change” affecting individual, cultural and community attitudes and behaviors. The goal is to move institutions and public policies toward gender equity, something that Roper-Batker describes as “Our Everest.” A Minnesota native, Roper-Batker has headed the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, which started in 1983, since 2001.

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Joy-Ann Reid to Receive African American Policy Forum’s Journalism Award

Joy-Ann Reid

On June 10th, an authoritative voice leading the resistance and challenging both the left and right, Joy-Ann Reid, will receive the George Curry Drum Major for Justice Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The award ceremony, Say Her Name: 20 Years of Intersectionality in Action, will be hosted by Kimberlee Crenshaw, co-founder of AAPF and professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA. Crenshaw is also a  major figure in the movement to fund philanthropy specifically for women and girls of color.

Rep. Keith Ellison, Democrat, Minnesota

The ceremony will also mark the 20th anniversary for AAPF, and will include playwright/activist Eve Ensler, as well as Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN-5), who has been a supporter of the rights of Muslim Americans and received the Utne Reader’s Visionary Award in 2011 for his work.

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Will the Trump Administration Let Girls Learn, or End One of Philanthropy’s Most Successful Campaigns?

Confusion reigns in Trumpland. And lack of awareness in decision-making appears to be rampant in the Trump Administration.

The latest example is the Trump Administration’s internal memo ending “Let Girls Learn,” Michelle Obama’s signature philanthropic endeavor. On May 1st, CNN opened up the can of worms with the headline, “Trump administration memo calls for ending Michelle Obama’s girls education program.” Hours later, CNN would post another headline, “Despite memo, White House says Michelle Obama program unchanged.”

“The Administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school,” said Heather Nauert, of the Trump Administration’s State Department, referring to Let Girls Learn. “We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so.”

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Heavy Hitters Collaborate on New Blueprint for Women’s Funds to Lead Social Change

Things are really coming together for women’s funds and gender lens investing, as this new report details.

The new report is written by Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute, Ms. Foundation President Teresa Younger, and Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women.

I have not read the report in total yet, but from my first foray in, I am really excited to see how these advanced thinkers and leaders are putting ideas together and finding new synergy for social change and finance. This is powerful stuff!

The report is written using architectural design as an extended metaphor for how to integrate the different sectors of finance, women’s funds, and social change theory. Combining these three components, the report then makes practical suggestions about how to influence issues like domestic violence, the gender wage gap, and climate change.

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Trending: Kate Coyne-McCoy and the Rise of Activism for Women in Politics

Coyne-McCoy has trained over 9,000 women to run for office. She wants to know what is still holding many women back.

“The more that philanthropy can do to encourage and support women in running for office, the better,” says Kate Coyne-McCoy, CEO of The Campaign Fixer, who has spent much of her career trying to bring more women into American politics. Coyne-McCoy has trained over 9,000 women to run for office, and she has a message for philanthropy.

“Do more politically, period,” she said in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women, when asked what her message would be to progressive women donors and their allies.  “Until you make an investment in the electoral and political process, you’re never going to see the change you want.”

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Distributive By Design: How a New Economic Model Helps Build Gender Equality

Image: Kate Raworth and Christian Guthier/The Lancet Planetary Health

Kate Raworth has written a very compelling article about the need to redesign economies to address inequality. The change requires relinquishing old economic thinking, which said something like, “Inequality has to get worse before it can get better in a growing economy,” and replacing it with new thinking that builds on “a network of flows” which are distributive by design.

Raworth is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University and the author of Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist.

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Want Gender Equality in Your City? Join This Call.

Do you, like me, live in a city where girls softball teams have names like “The Dolls” and very few women make it into elected office? Then you might want to join this call being held by It’s Time Network next Tuesday, May 2nd at 3 PM EST. This will be an opportunity to learn about how to take action in your local community to protect and advance women’s rights.

It’s Time Network brought together a number of important organizations to formulate their Mayors Guide: Accelerating Gender Equality including the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Institute for Women’s Policy Research Center for American Women in Politics, Jobs with Justice,  Forward Together, Equal Rights Advocates, Global Fund for Women, Women Donors Network, Girls Inc.,  MomsRising, The Grove Foundation, St. Vincent De Paul Society of San Francisco, Astrea Foundation and Women’s Earth Alliance.

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First Women, Now Parents and Babies, to March on Washington for Better Care

It’s like the biggest play group ever, but political. On Tuesday, May 2, parents and babies from every state are converging on Capitol Hill and urging Congress to “Think Babies.”

Whenever there is a new initiative for babies, you can be sure there is a lot of woman power behind it. Man power, too, to be sure. But let’s face it: women still change more diapers, read more stories, and attend to more preschool dramas than men.

There is no doubt that women and entire communities benefit when babies are well taken care of. So this should be an important march, with a powerful feminist message: babies matter. Think Babies. 

From ZERO TO THREE, the organizing leading families in advocating for policies that support the littlest humans:

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Givers, or Takers? Callahan’s New Book Takes a Hard Look at Philanthropy’s Alpha Donors

David Callahan, Founder and Editor of Inside Philanthropy and author of The Givers

Great private wealth is nothing new, but reading David Callahan’s The Givers will convince you that there is a different game at play today, with staggering fortunes and unprecedented elite hubris. Some fortunes are so big, and growing so fast, that even a dedicated philanthropist can’t give the money away fast enough. To cite just one example, Michael Bloomberg was worth around $5 billion when he became mayor of New York in 2002; he’s now worth more than $45 billion. With this figure in mind, the over one billion dollars he has given Johns Hopkins University to date doesn’t seem so big. Still, it’s an astonishing sum for most of us to contemplate. And that’s not all. Bloomberg has also given hundreds of millions to reduce smoking and traffic deaths globally, and combat climate change.

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This Funder is Growing Quickly, and Giving Out Rapid-Response Grants to Fight Trump

The Emergent Fund is making rapid-response grants to push back on Trump’s discriminatory policies.

There is nothing quite like women’s networks to help make rapid-response grants. In an environment where women’s rights are being threatened by atrocious plans such as the Trump administration’s proposed ending of the Violence Against Women Act, we need more women’s networks to come forward like the Women Donors Network and push for increased funding to fight back.

Now, the Emergent Fund, of which the Women Donors Network is a founding member, has announced its next wave of rapid-response grants to community-based organizations resisting the Trump Administration’s regressive policies. This brings the total of grants already issued by the Emergent Fund to $500,000.

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